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March 2016

Tax identity theft and related refund fraud are major concerns of U.S. taxpayers. That was clear in the recent Bankrate Money Pulse poll that found 72 percent of taxpayers would be willing to wait longer for their refunds if the delay would help the Internal Revenue Service fight identity thieves. The acceptable refund wait times ranged from one week to more than two months. And before you jump to the conclusion that folks were just giving lip service to the question by opting for the minimum delay, hold off on that leap. A surprising 22 percent told Princeton Survey Research... Read more →


Nope, that headline date is not wrong. If you didn't file a federal tax return three years ago for the 2012 tax year and were due a refund, you must file that old paperwork by this year's April filing due date to get your money. For most of us, that's April 18, but it's a day later in Maine and Massachusetts thanks to Patriots Day celebrations in those two New England States. If you don't, then Uncle Sam gets to keep your refund. And that could be a sizable amount. Almost $1 billion unclaimed refunds: The Internal Revenue Service Federal... Read more →


Opponents of Scientology were jazzed yesterday as word spread across the Internet that the controversial church's tax-exempt status had been revoked. They were quickly disappointed. Church of Scientology "Big Blue" building in Los Angeles (Photo by PictorialEvidence via Wikimedia Commons) The report that hit my social media feeds ostensibly was from ABC News. It said, in part: In a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court today, the eight justices ruled in favor of revoking the Church of Scientology’s tax-exempt status in the United States. Under the ruling, Scientology will still be able to operate as a business but no longer... Read more →


It's been one of those weeks that makes me totally understand exactly why the TGIF acronym was created. Blarghhhh! Arghhhh! TGIF! The only solace for Milton Waddams, brilliantly played by Stephen Root, in "Office Space" is his red stapler. Huffington Post has even more GIFs from Mike Judge's 1999 workplace documentary comedy. We've all been there, thinking, at least temporarily, that work sucks. That it's time to get a new job. That being out of work for a while wouldn't be so bad. Or maybe the unbearable cube farm circumstances are a sign that it's time to take that entrepreneurial... Read more →


This was supposed to be the year that the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners clamped down on tax identity thieves. So much for the best-laid plans to fight tax fraud. The 2016 filing season has seen a series of tax security concerns, both among private tax service providers and the IRS. Identity protection site targeted:The latest trouble is a possible security problem with the IRS' Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, or IP PIN, online retrieval tool. An IP PIN is used by folks who've had their tax filing data stolen. They use their IRS-issued six-digit IP PIN... Read more →


Crain's New York Business may have shed some light on why Donald J. Trump doesn't want us to see his tax returns. The magazine reports that the billionaire real estate developer got a property tax break designed for New Yorkers making less than $500,000 a year. Michigan voters apparently weren't concerned about Trump's tax returns, giving him that state's GOP primary win on March 8. Numerous publications, as well as The Donald himself, say that the Republican presidential nominee front-runner is worth billions, although the exact dollar amounts vary. Trump makes it simple for us, noting that he's "really rich."... Read more →


The hubby and I get our medical insurance through his employer. Today we and several of his coworkers got our Form 1095-C in connection with our health care coverage. This is one of two new documents that employers are sending out to their workers in connection with the Affordable Care Act, or as many of us call it (fondly and otherwise), Obamacare. When one of the hubby's colleagues raised questions about the form, I suggested he send out a company-wide email blast with a link to my story on ACA forms. He declined. We now have a dinnertime discussion topic.... Read more →


And once again this election season, it comes back to Donald J. Trump. Ohio Gov. John Kasich released seven years' worth of partial tax returns on Saturday, March 5, following the previously set pattern of U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. That leaves Trump as the only remaining candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination who has not made public any of his tax filings. He promises he'll let us see his taxes … eventually. This Twitter photo posted Oct. 15, 2015, is the only glimpse we've had of any of Donald Trump's tax filings.... Read more →


As millions of us are still working on our current tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service and its in-house watchdog the National Taxpayer Advocate's office are debating the future of the agency and how that will affect us and our filings in coming years. The IRS is working on what it calls its Future State plan, an outline of agency activities in five years and beyond. One of the plan's central components is online taxpayer accounts. These accounts, says the IRS, will substantially reduce the number of telephone calls and visits it receives every year from filers. The IRS says... Read more →


Here's some news guaranteed to get steam coming out of many ears on Capitol Hill. Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen last week was awarded the Elliot L. Richardson Prize for Excellence in Public Service by the National Academy of Public Administration. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is often called to testify at Congressional committee hearing about his agency's actions. Last week, however, he appeared before a more welcoming group. The award, named for a four-time White House Cabinet member who served in all three branches of government under six presidents, includes a $25,000 cash component, at least half of which... Read more →


Were you like this cat during last night's debate featuring the four remaining 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls? Is the debate over? Is it safe to come out yet? I must confess that I just couldn't stick with the debacle from Detroit. Instead, I followed from a safe digital distance on Twitter. But from what I gleaned there and from various post mortems, the event was messy (school yard name calling), embarrassing (junior high style references to male sexual prowess) and at times scary (one of these guys soon could be running our country!). Weird political week: To us here in... Read more →


The calendar says it's Thursday, March 3, but unofficially it's Pile on Donald Trump Day. It began with the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nominee excoriating Trump, calling the New York real estate developer a "fraud" and "phony" whose name-based brand is built on "dishonesty." Donald Trump sporting his America-themed presidential campaign hat. "He's playing the members of the American public for suckers,” Mitt Romney said of Trump in 17-minute speech delivered at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. "He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is... Read more →


Deduct! Deduct! That's the tax battle cry each year for many taxpayers, whether they itemize on Schedule A or rely solely on the above-the-line deductions found mostly on the long Form 1040. Both methods offer lots of opportunities to get your earnings down to the lowest possible taxable amount. Click image for Shannon Ryan's full crazy tax deductions infographic at The Heavy Purse. But many tax deductions also have limits that reduce their effectiveness. So some folks try to push those boundaries, sometimes too far. Don't try these tax claims: We've all heard about pets being claimed as dependents. Yes,... Read more →


The animal heralding March's arrival this tax-filing season is not a lion or a lamb, but a fish, or rather a phish. Yep, a new phishing scam has emerged, with tax crooks trying out a new scheme that targets payroll and human resources professionals. The Internal Revenue Service today issued an alert to the folks who handle employee data to be wary of a phishing email purporting to be from company executives seeking personal information on employees. I know it's thrilling -- or terrifying if your big boss is anything like The Donald (and I've also worked for a few... Read more →